The Boston University Men’s Hockey Team (5-9-2, 4-5-2 HE) took the ice at Agganis Arena for a matchup with a red hot University of New Hampshire (7-8-1, 3-6-1 HE) team. The Terriers are coming off of a three-game lose streak, meanwhile the Wildcats were looking to improve on their three-game win streak. Despite having the two time Hockey East “Goaltender of the Week” in their net with Mike Robinson, the Wildcats couldn’t match the Terrier’s level of compete, giving BU their first regulation win since October 23.
“I think all in all, our leaders led and our guys followed,” Head Coach Albie O’Connell said postgame. “I thought we played a really good defensive game, and we did a great job blocking shots- that was a major factor in the game. So happy with the W, happy with our effort, and it’s going to be harder tomorrow.”
Both teams came out aggressive, skating the entire length of the ice with the Terriers getting three shots on net in the first two minutes of play. Even with BU’s hot start, UNH was the first to break the silence when junior forward Harrison Blaisdell opened the scoring from the top of the crease. The go-ahead goal shifted momentum in favor of the Wildcats, who dominated much of the first as the Terriers continued to be pushed off pucks and lose races.
Just over halfway through the period, Wildcat freshman forward Will Margel rammed assistant captain Max Kaufman, who fell to the ice clutching his head. The call was under review but ultimately deemed a minor, and the forward headed back to the bench.
The Terriers continued to create opportunities throughout the opening frame in a game that would be full of great chances and unfortunate reviews. As the clock winded down in the first, junior forward Wilmer Skoog had a golden opportunity that bounced off the post, a play that would happen four more times through the game.
With just over a minute to go in the period though, Skoog was rewarded with the equalizer. Junior forward Matt Brown –who returned to the line up last week at Madison Square Garden against Cornell– launched the puck from the top of the circle, and the deflection off of Skoog’s skate was enough to knot the game at one.
BU came into the second with hot skates, and we finally saw some of the Terrier leadership contribute to the score. Junior assistant captain Alex Vlasic had a game as unfortunate as Skoog’s, when he finally scored his first goal of the season through traffic, but the tally was ultimately overturned when the review found a BU defensemen in the crease when the shot went through.
Brown saw his second chance of the game when junior forward Robert Mastrosimone skated in and dropped him a low pass from behind the net. Brown picked up the puck and shot it from Robinson’s doorstep, but the netminder was there. Minutes later, Mastrosimone’s shot bounced off the post.
At 11:35, O’Connell called for a review on a potential slew foot call, ultimately sending Wildcat freshman Liam Devlin to the locker room for the rest of tonight’s game –as well as tomorrow’s match up– and gave the Terriers the man-advantage for five minutes in the middle of the second. With the extra forward, BU finally got the reward they needed when senior captain Logan Cockerill found the back of the net.
“There’s a lot of pressure to be the captain here,” O’Connell commented of the senior. “Tonight he ended up getting one so I’m hoping that can loosen him up at least a little bit. But yeah, really happy for him.”
Junior defensemen Case McCarthy gained possession, allowing sophomore goal leader Dylan Peterson to carry the puck into the zone and make a cross-crease pass to Cockerill who lit the lamp for the first time this season.
“It’s a breath of fresh air,” Cockerill said. “It’s been a long year. Just production wise, I haven’t been playing great, but I think the coaching staff has done a good job to keep my mental state pretty level and make sure it doesn’t get to me and I just plan the right way. So I had a talk with Jay [Pandolfo] and he just said, ‘just keep it simple, it’s going to come at some point and it has to,’ so it did, and it felt really good.”
Following the Cockerill goal, Vlasic, who couldn’t catch a break tonight, also got the puck past Robinson, but the goal was turned over and unallowed on an offsides call.
“Vlasic, unfortunately, had two goals disallowed himself. I don’t think he’s gonna get Skoog a Christmas gift.”
Up one heading into the third, the Terriers played a dominant game of “keep-away.” During the final 20, Domenick Fensore played some of his best hockey of the season, blocking shots, making hits, and creating plays for himself.
In the final minutes of the game with the UNH goaltender on the bench for an extra attacker, Kaufman ate a puck and made a critical block to keep the lead. With the puck in his possession, the assistant captain skated cross ice and dumped it in to secure the much needed victory.
“We’ve been building all week. We’ve had better systems today than we’ve had in the past. And we worked on that a lot this week,” Cockerill told the media in the press conference. “I just think us realizing as a group, what winning hockey looks like and how we can start to implement it consistently. That’s gonna be big for us.”
Despite the slow start, the Terriers dominated the second and third periods and finally got rewarded for a solid game that they can look to build on when they head to the Whittemore center for a 7p.m. puck drop in Durham. Follow along on Twitter @BOSHockeyBlog and on Instagram @Boston.Hockey.Blog, and as always, come to the blog for a postgame recap.